TV to Paper: How I Became a Writer
I stumbled into writing. It wasn’t my intent as I prepared for my career. I was going to be a serious TV reporter, perhaps someday even an evening news anchor. In college I took all the required mass communication classes. I learned to prepare broadcast scripts and to present them on camera. I spent hours in editing bays rewinding tape over and over. When it was time for my internship I landed at Cherokee County’s Adelphia Channel 4. It was a small station where the four reporters did their own camera work and editing and the only anchor wore the same blazer for every nightly broadcast. My 20 year old self found it all incredibly glamorous and I was ecstatic to be there.
But I wasn’t enamored for very long. I remember precisely the moment I realized I was not meant to be a TV reporter. I was standing in a private driveway taking in the wreckage of a house fire as I set up the camera. The family was gathered at the front of what was left of their home, obviously uncomfortable with the media’s presence. Some were crying and we were kindly asked to leave. I was told by my supervisor to pack up the camera, walk across the small neighborhood street, and to set the camera back up on public property.
Then and there I knew I would not be what I had set out to be. I would not be the intrusive stranger shoving a mic in a grieving person’s face, desperate for a sound bite. I abandoned my plan four years in the making and began to apply for writing positions using my Intro to Journalism coursework as my writing clips. I landed my fresh-out-of-college job at a trade publication covering rehabilitation and health care. My first assignment was a piece on back pain. I sat at my small cubicle and trembled as I transcribed my interviews and tried to plan out the structure of the article. I was terrified that my boss and brand new colleagues were going to catch on any moment that I had no idea what I was doing. Instead, the story went to print and I was assigned another one. And another one. And then a cover story. And before long I was promoted. I ended my 12 years at that job as an online editor. Apparently, I did know what I was doing.
Today, when I am discouraged and wonder how the heck I ended up where I am, I remind myself that I know exactly what I am doing and that I was led to this place—this profession—for a reason. I haven’t written “my one great piece” yet. Maybe I never will. But I have written hundreds of stories that have touched someone, somewhere. Because it is impossible to write without it meaning something to someone…even if it’s just the writer herself.